Helen Reddy's new album is called "Feel So Young," but her concert Monday night could have been called "Feel So Good."
That's what promoters intended. And that's what ticket holders got.You had to feel good about supporting an event that, while being high entertainment for the "haves," was being held to benefit the "have-nots," specifically Salt Lake City's homeless population.
You had to feel good about going to a holiday concert one week before Christmas on an evening when snow was falling lightly outside on city sidewalks.
If all that wasn't enough, there was Reddy's singular, lemon-and-honey voice, which should make anyone feel good.
"I Am Woman, hear me roar . . ." And she does, this time in a staccato, jazz version. But she doesn't sound nearly as threatening now as she did in the early 1970s, when "I Am Woman" rose not only on the charts but in the collective conscience of all those involved in the women's movement.
The 49-year-old Reddy remains just as convincing, however. When she sings, "I am strong, I am invincible," believe her. It's less credible, somehow, that she still has a "long, long way to go." No doubt, she has come a long way, baby, in a lot of things.
Producing albums, unfortunately, isn't one of them. She's hoping to change her recording drought with her new album, which can only be had by dialing a certain toll-free number.
Reddy started her show with the title track, a playful, jazz number by Mack Gordon and Josef Myron. Continuing the jazz theme, she swayed into a new arrangement of an old hit, "Angie Baby." Then, on "You and Me Against the World," she switched back to the original sound. After all, the song reminds her of her daughter. Some things - like songs that bring back pleasant memories - you just don't change.
Plugging "Feel So Young" every chance she got ("Remember, 1-800-933-REDDY"), Reddy sang four more new songs from the new album. "Looks Like Love" and "Let's Go Up" are standard fare, but "Here in My Arms" is one of those sweet, bluesy love songs that only come along once in a bluesy moon.
"Here in My Arms" was written by pianist Mary Ekler, who doesn't play on the new album but was with Reddy on this concert tour. Backing up Reddy's dynamically powerful vocals was Ekler's piano, which was emotional and flawless as was the performance of the rest of the band: Bill Breland on bass guitar; Milton Ruth, Reddy's husband, on drums; and Teresa Russell on lead guitar. (Note that one of the few female lead guitarists in the world is in Reddy's entourage.)
Taking time to chat with the audience, Reddy told the story about how she was once stopped in an airport by an exuberant fan who thought Reddy was Anne Murray. (Don't all celebrities have stories like that?)
"So, if there's anybody out there wondering why I haven't sung `Snowbird' or `He Needed Me' (Murray hits) . . ."
For those who couldn't remember who Reddy is, she launched into a medley of her hits, including "Ruby Red Dress," "Delta Dawn," "Ain't No Way to Treat a Lady," "I Don't Know How to Love Him" and "Keep On Singing." All of that was followed up by "I Am Woman."
By the end of her hourlong show, everyone remembered.
Though Reddy was the star of the evening, a lot of the "feel good" credit goes to On-Stage Productions, an ambitious local troupe that features some 250 singers and dancers, who performed for 45 minutes before Reddy's act. After Reddy's encore, On-Stage took the spotlight again to sing "In Our Hands," with excellent solos by Jann McCardell and David Brooks.